Stay Cool This Summer with a Long Island Iced Tea

Although it is sometimes incorrectly attributed to Aristotle, it was German psychologist Kurt Koffka who coined the phrase, “The whole is other than the sum of its parts.”

His contention, which is central to Gestalt psychology, is that the human mind considers the whole to have an independent existence. We perceive the entirety before, or in parallel with, its individual parts.

Koffka was quick to correct those who translated the phrase into English as, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“‘This is not a principle of addition’,” Koffka said.

Perhaps so. Then again, Koffka never had a Long Island Iced Tea. This cocktail isn’t just something other than five liquors that seemingly should never be combined, some sour mix (or lemon juice — more about this in a minute) and cola. No, it’s something other — and indisputably greater.

The Long Island Iced Tea was invented in 1972 by bartender Bob “Rosebud” Butt at the Oak Beach Inn on (of course) Long Island. Here’s the story behind his masterpiece:

As demonstrated in the video, the original recipe uses sour mix. This feels a bit like critiquing Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but I firmly believe that neon-colored mixes have no place in cocktails. So let’s try a version with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a bit more cola.


  • 1oz vodka
  • 1oz gin
  • 1oz white rum
  • 1oz white tequila
  • 1/2oz triple sec
  • 1oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 4oz cola
  • Lemon wedges

Fill your favorite shaker with ice. Pour in the vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and lemon juice. Shake it up well, pour into your favorite tumbler filled with ice, and then add the cola. Garnish with one or two lemon wedges. Enjoy responsibly while shaping your perceptions of the best summer ever.

— Matt Rehm